There's many unusual groups that have produced their own video games. The US Army created shooters as recruitment and training tools, the Danish Geodata Agency recreated the entire country in Minecraft as an educational tool and of course countless Christian groups have made "edutainment" games to promote Christian values. Plenty of people have recognized the potential value of #videogames as propaganda, but none as bizarre and terrifying as the Aum Shinrikyo.
The Cult Behind Japan's Deadliest Terror Attack Made A Propaganda Game
On March 20, 1995, five men boarded five different trains of the Tokyo subway system, each man carried with him an umbrella with a sharpened tip and a plastic bag full of liquid wrapped in newspaper. The liquid hidden inside the packages was the deadly nerve agent Sarin, released when the attackers pierced the bags with their umbrellas and fled the scene in five different cars. What followed would be the deadliest terrorist attack in Japanese history.
By the end of the day, twelve people would be dead and over 5,000 would be injured, all in the name of Aum Shinrikyo. Nine of the ten attackers were sentenced to death, along with the head of their cult, Shoko Asahara (who is still in prison, awaiting execution).
Laws were past to monitor the remaining members of the group, in order to prevent future attacks, but despite the government crackdown, the cult was not finished. In fact, they released a terrifyingly bizarre propaganda game about their attack.
The game, called Kamikuishiki-mura Monogatari and developed by a group called Aumsoft, was released sometime in the years following the Tokyo Subway attack, for the PC-98 personal computer. It's hard to determine exactly what the gameplay entails, but it seems like a sort of choice-based resource management game with a horrifying goal: to unleash the Tokyo subway attack.
The graphics consist of a mixture of unsettling, cartoony drawings and grainy black and white footage, often depicting members of the cult and victims of the attack. The cult's leader and founder, Aum Shinrikyo is ever-present in the game, depicted in animations bestowing his healing touch on people and in one bizarre scene, having his bathwater collected to be injected into someone's arm.
The game also features clips from the anime produced by the Aum Shinrikyo cult as a recruitment and propaganda tool. Footage from the cartoon features especially heavily in the "good end" of the game, in which you release the gas and appear to ascend to a new plain of enlightenment along with the cult leader.
There's something supremely uncomfortable about the game, even setting aside its gristly aims. The amateurish, mismatched graphics and repetitive soundtrack that sounds like it was recorded off a broken radio by a handheld tape recorder lend a sense of the uncanny to the whole thing. It's a bit like glimpsing into the mind of the cult leader himself. It's certainly a very different approach to Outlast 2's in-your-face gruesome approach to cult #Horror, but it's no less terrifying to me.
Do you think the game is a recruitment tool for the cult? Can you translate the text and provide extra insight into the game's contents? Let us know in the comments!